Apple’s iPad lineup is a mess. It’s a long list of either overpriced or underpowered or aging devices. The iPad was once a promising and leading line of mobile tablets and Apple cannot figure how to bring back the glory days.
Glory days? iPad had success faster than the iPhone. Apple sold a few hundred million iPads, updated the model every year or so, and then the bottom fell out of the market, and sales have tanked for a couple of years straight. What will save the iPad? Not the new iPads.
Mobile Device Fatigue
My personal opinion about the iPad is simple. We have mobile device fatigue. Think about it. Apple’s customers pony up for Macs, iPhones, iPads, Watch, Apple TV, plus various and sundry Apple-branded accessories, some of which are anemic at best (try getting SNMP traffic data from AirPort devices).
With so many Apple devices to choose from only the privileged few can choose them all. The one getting the short end of the stick the past few years is iPad which has seen sales fall for two straight years. Even the Mac is up year over year.
Other than mobile device fatigue, what else is hurrying the iPad’s downfall? Have you seen the product line? There are five different iPad and some are antique by today’s technology standards, yet it’s only a few years old.
At the low end there’s the iPad mini 2 from a few years ago. There is no iPad mini 3, having been replaced last year by the iPad mini 4. There’s an iPad Air, and an iPad Air 2, circa 2014, but the newest model is the most expensive, iPad Pro, which starts at $799.
It’s true that every model has different hardware. iPad Pro is a screamer. iPad mini 2? Not so much. Even iPad Air dates back to 2013, yet it’s still in the lineup, taking up space and trying not to laugh while people pay good money all the while thinking they’re getting something new when iOS 9.x will make it feel like an Android tablet or worse (which would be an Amazon tablet).
iPad Pro is a screamer, yes, powered by Apple’s latest CPU, featuring a new accessories port, the Smart Connector, and 3D Touch. iPad Air 3 supposedly is waiting on the tarmac for liftoff with a faster CPU, the Smart Connector, and, well, not much else. Rumor brethren believe it won’t even have 3D Touch because Apple believes in segregating products within a line by limiting features and youth.
iPad sales have suffered because the use case scenario for iPad is the weakest among Apple’s three major product lines; an overlapping use case, if you will. iPhone? It’s a must-have device for hundreds of millions of people. iPad? Not so much. Mac? It’s the go-to for real computing power that puts to shame every tablet for capability and value. iPad? Not so much.
Yes, many Apple customers love their iPads, may not carry a large screen iPhone, and find even a Mac and the watered down OS X El Capitan (which autocorrected to El Camino a few times) to be just too much computer. Apple can’t seem to improve much on the usability case. Why buy a new one? 3D Touch? Good for graphics folk who cough up extra for Pencil? Smart Connector? Good for Apple’s own overpriced keyboard, but third party Bluetooth models are far less expensive. Graphics? Even iPad mini 2 from yesteryear sports a Retina display so everything looks good even at the bottom of the barrel.
The iPad Air 3 won’t save the iPad or improve much on the sales problems because it just doesn’t bring enough to the table to overcome a growing malady called mobile device fatigue.